Vicky's Story

I joined Hestia in 2018, as a service manager for the Wandsworth Recovery & Rehabilitation mental health service.

By that point, I had worked in the care sector for 20 years, across homelessness, substance misuse and mental health services, crisis house and forensic services. I started off as a resettlement officer and support worker and worked my way up.

I have wanted to work in social care setting since I was young. My dad was a teacher in a school for children with learning difficulties back in Africa, so I was a pupil there growing up. I made friends with the other children and from then on, it was my dream to help more vulnerable people in society.

I came to the UK, got a degree in health and social care, and haven’t looked back.

You feel satisfaction because you can see the results of your work. A while ago I bumped into a man I used to support 20 years ago; I remember helping him to start an IT course at college. He was so keen to do it and I remember telling him to go for it. He is now a computer engineer.

I was so proud. Knowing that I’m having a positive impact gives me strength and motivates me to do more. I love my job.

Sometimes, the journey to a success story like that is not smooth. Someone can take one step forward and then five steps back – that is the nature of recovery. I have learnt to walk that recovery journey with the person I am supporting. Strive for their goal alongside them and follow their lead – that is the greatest thing you can do for their recovery. They are the experts in their own experience.

Recently, I secured a promotion to Area Manager, covering Hestia’s Registered Care Homes. This involves sustaining our services, supporting my colleagues to be the best they can be and checking in with service users. We are all working towards the same goal.

I have been able to go to our services during the COVID-19 restrictions, but I can’t wait for things to go back to normal again so I can go more often. I miss it.

One-on-one time with the people we support is what brings me joy; I love being a listening ear.

This is not just work for me, it is my life passion to help people. In my spare time, I volunteer at my local church, helping refugees and the homeless. Our work can involve helping them to attend GP appointments or cooking for them, all the way to finding them supported accommodation or even helping them to reunite with family members.

When you have worked in this field for as long as I have, you must know when to put up boundaries and take time to look after your own health, too. I always make sure to set time aside for my children and my grandchild. I also phone my dad, who still lives in Africa, every morning before I start work. He usually comes to the UK frequently to visit, so not being able to see him during lockdown has been hard. Our daily catch ups over a cup of tea have helped though.

I used to have long-term career goals, but I do not now – I feel like I’ve achieved them all.

However, I would love to stay with Hestia and continue being there for service users and making a difference.

I would also love to become a director in Hestia one day. As a Black woman, I must remember that other people from my background will be looking up to me. I want to show them that you can achieve anything if you are focused and work hard.

When the time comes to retire, I want to become a trustee somewhere and continue to grow. It is my proudest achievement that I have been able to take that dream I had as a child and achieve it. To see how my dream has helped others to achieve theirs is all I could ask for.

Which book has impacted me the most?

I read a lot of Danielle Steel books. They are a mix of romance, crime, and sorrow. A lot of her books are made into films too. I have been reading her books since secondary school and they are my stress buster. I am not crazy about books but hers are ones that I can read over one weekend without blinking an eye. A favourite of mine is All That Glitters.

Which film has impacted me the most?

There was a television series, rather than a film, that I watched recently with my kids that had a big impact on me. It’s called Young Wallander. It drives home some points around how people survive being disconnected and discriminated against, whether that is in terms of their race, or any disabilities they may have. I like watching stuff like this as it helps me learn more every day.

Which song has impacted me the most?

I really like Beat It by Michael Jackson. I always put it on repeat. It made me aware of the world and how you must stand to fight your battles by yourself. The lyrics: “You wanna be tough, better do what you can… no one wants to be defeated” stuck with me. My kids will often find me doing my hair with my earphones in, and they know I am listening to Beat It.